My students talked about Tristan’s visit for weeks afterwards. She totally blew their minds and gave them a whole new paradigm for thinking about love, relationships and diversity. I can’t wait to bring her back to campus! —Professor Tey Meadow, Princeton, 2011
Tristan Taormino has been a frequent guest speaker in my classes at the Columbia University School of Social Work, where she has consistently gotten rave reviews from students. Tristan is masterful at engaging students in meaningful dialogue about sexuality, and in encouraging them to think creatively about sex education. Her presentations have greatly enriched the learning experience of my students, and broadened their views on sexuality and sexual health. —Professor Lauren Taylor, Columbia University School of Social Work
Tristan Taormino’s visit to our campus was hugely successful. She was engaging, accessible, and thought-provoking. Tristan’s lectures and workshops offered an empowering perspective on sexuality that is lacking in so much “sex education.” Over the course of a week, Tristan gave generously of her time and energy. In addition to giving a different talk or workshop every night, Tristan met one-on-one with students for “office hours.” During these office hours, students were able to have one-on-one counseling sessions on any aspect of human relationships and sexuality. Students were lined up outside of our guest apartment to talk with Tristan about issues ranging from consent and communication to physiology. The office hours expanded to take up entire days. Some students told me that Tristan Taormino was the only adult non-peer who had ever discussed human sexuality with them. For many students, this opportunity to have all their questions answered in a confidential, candid, and non-judgmental way was life-changing. —Laura Haber, Unit One Program Director, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, 2011
Tristan’s presentation combined her personal experience working in the porn industry with an articulate feminist political analysis we couldn’t have gotten otherwise. Tristan’s films are a perfect example of doing feminist theory. My students were intrigued and inspired by her success in bringing feminist principles of equality, consent, and the right to sexual pleasure to bear on the production of pornography, and especially appreciated Tristan’s interest in improving the way both men and women are portrayed in pornography. She was so convincing that the faculty still joke about how many students rushed to buy her ground-breaking films after the presentation. I would definitely bring Tristan back, and would highly recommend her to anyone seeking a dynamic and engaging speaker with first-hand knowledge of the creation of feminist pornography. —Professor Benjamin Persky, Hunter College, 2011
Tristan’s firsthand perspective on the porn industry, as represented in her talk “My Life as a Feminist Pornographer,” made an invaluable contribution to the study and discussion of sexuality on campus. She’s neither an apologist nor a cynic, and I think attendees on all sides of the issue were impressed with her nuanced and unflinching portrayal of the realities of porn. She especially shined in the interactive question-and-answer period, when she teased out some of the more thorny and outrageous topics in her responses to sophisticated student queries. Her knowledge and opinions have the potential to push debate, whether among budding scholars or pornographers, to the next level: beyond pro and con, black and white, to more complex questions about the production of sexually explicit media.
—Julie Levin Russo, Brown University
Tristan impressed so many students with her vast knowledge of and experience with different kinds of alternative relationships. Her spunk and charisma made her presentation vastly entertaining, and the humor she brought into the classroom made it easy for students engage with her. —Marea, UC Berkeley, Class of 2013
Tristan was engaging, well-informed, and sensitive to the needs and desires of her audience. Her presentation was thoughtful and well-researched, and she charmed the crowd easily, imparting valuable sexual health information with humor and care. Students who attended her talk expressed enthusiasm about the event, and an admiration of Tristan’s easy rapport when talking about taboo topics. —Samantha, coordinator of Harvard Sex Week, Class of 2012
Tristan Taormino has an uncanny ability to connect and interact with her audience, creating a safe space where questions are encouraged. Tristan takes her job as a sex educator seriously; she gave a pre-event impromptu question and answer session in a classroom and stayed long after her lecture to sign books and speak individually with students. Her lecture drew an unprecedented number of UW Bothell students, faculty and friends. Tristan’s lecture, “Sexploration on College Campuses,” fostered a sense of community on campus and inspired important conversation even after Tristan left the stage.
—Dana Shaphren, Campus Events Board, University of Washington Bothell
Tristan spoke at UNCG twice. The first of her talks, “Sexploration” ignited much needed debate and discussion about human sexuality and about Tristan herself—so much so that a group of students and area businesses banded together to bring her back for a lecture entitled “My Life as a Feminist Pornographer.” Her second talk drew hundreds of students, faculty and staff—one of the largest crowds we’ve seen for an author in UNCG history, comparable to a visit by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, who, in my opinion, was far less interesting. For months afterward the campus was abuzz with debate about sexuality, feminism and pornography—from classroom discussion to the campus, city and state newspapers. While some of the debate was heated, it was civil and ultimately very productive. I’ve never seen black, white, gay and straight students and faculty so interested in any one subject or speaker, or seen them so intellectually stimulated. Nothing short of this year’s presidential election has gotten students so involved and interested in genuine dialogue and debate in my four years at UNCG.
—Joe Killian, UNC Greensboro, Editor-in-Chief of The Carolinian, Class of 2004
Not only does her lecture bring a strong female figure to light, it enables an open and healthy discourse on topics such as sexual equality and feminism in porn that can otherwise be taboo or misconstrued on a college campus. Taormino’s perspective is a non-traditional one to learn from while still being professional, educational, entertaining and extremely informative. — Lauren, Hendrix College, Class of 2011
Lauren, Hendrix, Class of 2011 Tristan’s visit to Wells was incredible. Her talks were dynamic, entertaining, and informative. She sparked a huge dialogue here that continued for several days after her visit; in fact, it’s a week later and all my friends are still discussing the G-spot! Her events were some of the most well-attended Wells events I’ve seen this year, and I think that everyone learned a lot of new information. Her workshop, “The Ultimate Guide to Women’s Sexual Pleasure” was especially amazing and I know for a fact that there were a lot of women there who learned all kinds of new things about their bodies! All in all, it was great to have her—I wish she could come back every semester!
—Amy, 2007 Graduate in Women’s Studies, Wells College
Tristan engaged our audience of nearly 500 students, staff and community members from start to finish. She welcomed all questions and her frankness and humor was well received. As the advisor to our student programming group, I appreciated Tristan’s sensitivity to the spectrum of views people have regarding sex. Her ability to relate both with the students who planned the event and the students in attendance was impressive. I would recommend Tristan’s presentation to any school looking for a fun, interactive and professional speaker on the topics of sex and sexuality.
—Ryan Ihrke, Program Coordinator, Student Activities, Minnesota State University
The pornography Taormino makes is a well known and celebrated part of the new movement for “feminist porn,” which acknowledges women’s desires and speaks from a woman’s point of view. Hearing the perspectives of a female, woman-positive, sex-positive pornographer in a booming business known for its exploitation of women is exactly the kind of discussions stewards of future generations should be considering.
—Professor Jennifer Burns Levin, Clark Honors College, University of Oregon
Tristan gave an exciting, down to earth and easy to understand lecture. Our students were very excited to learn about a new and interesting perspective on sex and were thrilled to get to participate in a fun and interactive way. Tristan’s presentation sparked a great deal of discussion on our campus even weeks after her lecture. Tristan was an amazing speaker, and you can tell that she is very passionate about what she does. She went out of her way to make sure that everyone who had a question got it answered, even after her lecture. Tristan is probably one of the best speakers we have ever booked. She was very fun and easy to work with, she made myself and the whole team feel comfortable and made sure our audience had a great time. I would highly recommend Tristan for anyone looking for a great college lecturer.
—Jake Hayes, IMPACT, VP Speaker Series, Minnesota State University, Mankato lecturer
As I hadn’t seen Tristan Taormino the last time she visited the College of Wooster, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Of course, I was very enthusiastic on the outside, encouraging everyone to come, but I, myself, was still unsure of what I would get. However, once I met Tristan and once she started her presentation, I was just as excited about it as my fellow organizers were, who had actually seen her our freshman year. Her presentation was clear and understandable and she made sure to leave enough time for questions that deserved a long answer. It was much more interactive than many speakers I’ve come to see—those who are lecture for the full time and leave a very short time period for very quick, easily answerable questions. Tristan was different and, I think, better. As a women’s studies major, I got to see a feminist view on a topic that is not mentioned in classes, but is still so prevalent today. Even though we are a small liberal arts college, we managed to fill the auditorium where she was hosted, and everyone there was very curious and excited about it.
—Emily N, Wooster College, Class of 2009
Allies and Queers was extremely lucky to have gotten the opportunity to bring Tristan to our small campus. In a place like Wooster, Ohio, sexuality, gender issues, and sexual education get lost under a blanket of farmlands, small towns, and Amish furniture. The turnout for Tristan was amazing. It was one of the most well-attended events I have witnessed in my four years here. Most of the campus turned up to listen, participate, ask questions, or just watch curiously. The College of Wooster desperately needed an event like Tristan’s to open the eyes of so many people and we were really glad we could bring it to them. —Adrianne Sharrock, Wooster College in Wooster Ohio, Studio Arts major, Class of 2005
My Christian high school taught me that pre-marital sex would send me straight to hell. During my freshman year at UNCG, I might have joined the protests against Tristan, but senior year found me a little older and much more liberal. I was still a virgin and had never even seen porn when I first heard Tristan speak. My sorority’s mission is to “be living examples of sisterhood across different races, cultures, religions, backgrounds, and lifestyles,” so we decided to co-sponsor her controversial return to our campus. Her open, honest, and fun conversation opened my eyes to a lot of things. Her message is a very positive, one that encourages people to learn about their sexuality as it is a big part of our human identity. I think that her speech was educational, informative, and enlightening.
—Kitsey B, UNC Greensboro, member of Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority, Inc., Class of 2004
Tristan shook things up in a way that no one had in my four years at UNCG. No other speaker has ever drawn that much attention. She brings a perspective that is not often heard, but needs to be. Hers is one of the most important queer feminist voices of our time and I am proud to have helped bring her to UNCG twice in one semester.
—John Russell, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Class of 2004
At first I was a little worried about bringing Tristan; is this school ready to talk about sex, queer sex, and the unspoken…anal sex? I was amazed at the crowd that her presence had drawn, it was clearly one of the most highly attended events of the year, and the most productive event that I had helped plan. Tristan’s speech, “Queer Sex in the New Millennium” changed the social climate on campus, it generated public discussions about sex and sexuality that no other event could have generated. The response to Tristan at Colby is still lingering now, almost a month after she came to Colby. Students responded to her speech, in the days and weeks following, in public discussion, and on campus wide emails. The publicity/controversy of her speech generated a public discussion of pornography, so much so that other clubs besides the GBLT club were bringing in speakers to address issues of pornography.
—Chelsea Elizabeth Downs, Colby College, Class of 2006
I am truly grateful to those who brought us events like Margaret Cho and Tristan Taormino and to those who are so brave in expressing their own sexuality and/or gender identity in a narrow-minded world. They have allowed me to embrace a world that is more complex, ambiguous and much more interesting than the one I was taught about growing up. And in learning more about others, I have learned more about myself.
—Francie McGowan in an editorial in The Colby Echo, May 1, 2003